Vying for wild cards

Analyzing what each contender must do to earn a berth

Originally Published: August 27, 2012
By Paul Swydan | FanGraphs
Evan LongoriaJ. Meric/Getty ImagesEvan Longoria should look worried, as the Rays continue to win, but they still aren't hitting.

In the American League, there are five teams within four games of the wild-card lead, and four teams within a half-game. The teams are similarly grouped in the National League, with four teams within two games and a fifth within striking distance at six games out. These 10 teams pepper the top half of the ESPN Power Rankings, with the Tampa Bay Rays pacing the group at fifth, and the other nine occupying the eighth through 16th spots in the rankings.

As we head into the last five weeks of the season, each team will look to have a better finishing kick than its competition. Let's take a look at what each team needs to do to make sure it gets to play at least one more game this season.